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There are times when you simply won’t have sewer connections. Whether you want to stay at a state or national park, or you want to save some money with a cheaper stay, you may only have access to a central dump station rather than hookups at your site.
Rather than unhooking your entire rig and driving it to the dump, you can transport your waste via a waste wagon, or turd toter, as my uncle would say. Hey, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it, and if you’ve chosen the immensely rewarding RV life, then you already know about its many challenges.
What to Look For
If you’re thinking a waste wagon will help you but you’re just not sure what you’re looking for, here are some of the criteria you should evaluate before making a purchase.
At its root, this problem refers to the volume of waste you think you’ll need to transport. However, it also impacts portability, so there are several things to evaluate here. If you have a large RV or a family with more than a few people like we do, you have a lot of waste.
A smaller wagon means more trips to the dump, but those trips are easier because the wagon isn’t as heavy. A large wagon means fewer trips, but a strain on your arm if the wagon is full, like ours always is.
Liquid weighs 8 pounds per gallon, so you can do a quick calculation to see how heavy a wagon might be when it’s full.
It may also depend on how far you are from the dump. Sometimes, we’re parked a few spots down and other times it’s at the opposite end of the park. In the first scenario, a large wagon may not be a hassle, but in the latter, you’ll need to figure out how to get it there.
Ultimately, your concern should be how large the waste tanks are in your RV. If you have a 20-gallon black water tank, you’re going to want a 20-gallon waste wagon. You don’t want to have to deal with spills and overflows from transferring the contents of a large RV tank into a small waste wagon.
Some wagons have wheels while others don’t, so you’re carrying it in your arms the entire way. You can see how this would impact the size you choose as well. You don’t want to carry a 20-gallon wagon very far.
However, you’ll want to pay attention to the construction of the wheels as well. Cheap plastic wheels will break or crack faster than something more durable, like rubber.
Pay attention to the axle and the connections that hold everything in place. If the axle isn’t strong enough to hold the weight of the wagon, it could ben, rendering the entire unit useless.
Other design aspects to look at are fasteners, straps, and anything else that holds the tank in place on its cart. While you can always buy a couple of bungees or ratchet straps to secure it better, some people want to spend the extra money for quality upfront.
Not all waste wagon models have a flush valve, so it’s something to evaluate. A flush valve allows you to hook up a garden hose and flush the inside of the wagon. This can help nudge the remaining waste out and it can clean the wagon for storage prep.
Tanks that have a flush valve tend to be easier to use. If it doesn’t have one, the tank may have to be purged manually, which is more work and can get messy.
You’ll also want to see if you can find a wagon that contains an anti-clogging feature or that has a good reputation for avoiding them.
There are plenty of factors that determine cost. Size, build quality, and features will all have an impact. If the tank is built with quality, you won’t deal as much with leaks, breaks, clogs, or messes.
While those dollars can add up fast, it’s not really a place you want to skimp, in my opinion. You’ll be so glad you choose something that’s easy to use rather than something cheap that’s more hassle than it’s worth.
The best waste wagons are made of polypropylene or polyethylene. Polypropylene is lighter, costs less, and isn’t quite as durable. However, it will endure temperature changes better than Polyethylene.
Polyethylene will cost more for a wagon of the same size, but it’s more durable. The downside is that it tends to smell worse than Polypropylene.
You’ll still want to look for the size and features that you need, no matter which material you choose. They make a variety of options in both.
Now that you know what you might be looking for, here are some of the best products on the market.
Camco Rhino 39002 heavy-duty RV waste tank
Camco has a long line of RV products that are reliable and made with excellent quality. It’s one of the best brands among RVers because they make products you can trust to last a long time.
The Rhino 39002 waste wagon is a heavy-duty 21-gallon option that’s polyethylene. This type of polyethylene is sometimes also called HDPE. It’s specifically designed for heavy outdoor use.
HDPE is used for all kinds of outdoor residential and RV products because of its durability. It’s stabilized for use outside and to withstand an immense amount of exposure to sunlight.
Because this particular wagon is blow-molded, it’s seamless, which decreases your risk of leaks. It also comes complete and ready to use, so set-up is virtually nonexistent. You can start transporting waste from the beginning.
It comes with a hose and all of the necessary accessories for maintenance, cleaning, and storage of the tank. And with a steel tow adapter, you can tow it behind a vehicle or push it alongside like a suitcase.
The large, no-flat wheels are secured with bearings that make movement easy, so no matter how you transport it, you shouldn’t have to worry about breaking a wheel.
- Comes with everything you need
- No-flat wheels
- HDPE construction
- Pricey for the size
Tote-N-Stor 25609 32-gallon waste wagon
You may not have heard of the brand, but they incorporate some quality materials and features into their 25609 waste wagon. It holds a whopping 32 gallons, so it’s a great option for those who need a larger capacity wagon.
It’s great for large RVs with sizable holding tanks. It includes a hose clamp, a collapsible drain hose, and a tow bracket. You can wheel it yourself or haul behind a UTV.
The wheels are made of plastic rubber to be more durable than plain plastic and they’re textured for maximum traction. Unfortunately, the wheels are a bit small and could dig into soft terrain, making it harder to transport.
There’s an included storage compartment for all of your accessories so you can keep everything in one place. This makes it easy to take all of the things you need when you go and eliminates the risk that you’ll forget something when you remove it from storage.
One of the downsides to this wagon is that it has a pretty small vent port for its size, meaning that dumping can take a while. The rate at which waste exits the tank is directly correlated to how much air can flow through this breather port, so the displacement isn’t as rapid as some others.
- Price and capacity make it a great budget option
- Storage compartment keeps everything together
- Cheap wheels
- Small vent port
Barker 30844 42-gallon 4-wheel waste wagon
Barker is another trusted name making RV products, so this waste tank is a great option. It has a 42-gallon capacity and 4 wheels instead of 2. This makes transport a whole lot easier, given that when it’s full, it’s pretty heavy.
It’s a fantastic waste wagon for large RVs or those who need the ability to dump both holding tanks at once. It’s made of blow-molded polyethylene, which makes it a great quality tank, and it includes aluminum and zinc-plated steel components.
Its design allows you to tow it on the ground rather than lifting and pulling. All four wheels are pneumatic. In the back, there are two 10-inch wheels and on the front, there are two 6-inch wheels.
The front wheels are attached to a yoke so you can steer, making it much more maneuverable than most waste wagons. Plus, each axle bearing is lubricated, making towing smooth.
It comes fully assembled with everything you need, so you can use it out of the box. It includes a 5-foot sewer hose, two 3-inch bayonet caps, two bayonet hose adapters, two stainless steel hose clamps, a tank indicator, and a heavy-duty tow handle.
- Comes with the accessories you need
- Fantastic wheel quality and design
- Large capacity
- Smaller wheel size on the front
Thetford SmartTote2 35-gallon 4-wheel waste wagon
The Thetford SmartTote2 with four wheels is a bit easier to maneuver than the Barker, because it has bigger, more widely spaced wheels on the front. It has everything you need included, so you won’t have to buy extra accessories.
It’s made of polypropylene and the wheels are made of durable rubber. The front wheels are part of a yoke so that it’s easier to steer and the handle hooks easily to many different trailer hitches.
The handle articulates as you steer, so even without a UTV, you can pull it relatively easily by hand. When it’s full, it will weigh close to 300 pounds, so it will require someone strong enough to pull it.
Thetford says you should only go 5 miles per hour on the axles, so that won’t be a problem on foot, but you’ll have to be aware of how fast you’re driving if you hook it to a vehicle.
The great thing about this tank is that the breather port and the mouth are large, so you’ll get rapid emptying when you go to the dump station and it will be easier to clean up before stowing away.
You’ll also benefit from the AutoStop level gauge, which activates when the waste wagon reaches its capacity. This prevents overfilling. And the PermaStore compartment will hold all of your accessories so you can keep everything in one spot.
- AutoStop feature
- PermaStore compartment
- Comes fully assembled
- Small, hard wheels may dig in
- Low maximum speed rating
Tote-N-Stor 20129 4-wheel waste wagon
This 38-gallon waste wagon gives you a lot of capacity and 4-wheel maneuverability at a better price than some others, and you’re still getting a good quality item. The wheels are made of rubber, so they’re more durable than plastic, and a lot quieter, too.
The downside is that these wheels aren’t pneumatic, so they can still wear down faster than others.
It features a low profile design, which makes it less bulky to deal with when putting it in storage, and there’s a compartment included for all of your accessories, which it comes with so you don’t have to buy extras.
It includes a hose, a hose adapter, two hose caps, a drain hose, and clamps. Unfortunately, there are better tow brackets out there. This one seems a bit flimsy and after pulling for a while, could hurt your hand.
However, the design of the handle ensures that it never touches the ground, so you’re guaranteed a clean place to hold the wagon. And due to its elevation, you won’t have to bend over as far to grab it.
The stable design ensures that pulling is easy, even though it has a larger capacity.
- Storage compartment
- Low-profile design
- Large capacity
- Great value
- Wheels wear out easily
Thetford SmartTote2 40505 waste wagon
This 12-gallon waste wagon is a great option if you don’t need something very large. Its rugged design is made from polypropylene and it has durable rubber wheels with a built-in handle.
You can also use an optional tow strap that will allow you to hook it to your trailer hitch rather than transporting it manually.
Like most Thetford models, it has an AutoStop level gauge to keep it from spilling over. It also has a large air vent and a large valve, which means it won’t take long at all to dump it.
- Large air vent and valve
- AutoStop feature
- Optional tow strap
- Durable construction
- Doesn’t include a hose
- Capacity may be too small for some
Barker 31342 30-gallon waste wagon
This Barker waste wagon is also made of blow-molded polyethylene to prevent leaks, aluminum, and zinc-plated steel. It’s a durable product in a smaller capacity for people who don’t need as much.
It’s a convenient waste wagon for smaller RVs or shorter trips. It only has 2 wheels, but they’re both made of rubber, so it’s easy to pull and you won’t have to worry about their quality.
It comes with a flushing hose and a pull handle and it comes fully assembled, so you won’t have to worry about setting anything up before using it. Accessories include a drain hose, a bayonet cap, a garden cap hose, hose adapters, and stainless steel clamps.
- Easy to pull or two
- Comes completely assembled
- Comes with all accessories
- Smaller capacity
If you’re still on the fence about which waste wagon you need, or whether you need one at all, here are some frequently asked questions that may help.
Question: Do I need a portable RV waste wagon?
Answer: It really depends on where and how you use your RV most of the time. If you stay in places with full hookups, then you probably won’t ever need one. Not all campgrounds have a dump station either, so that means even if you have a waste wagon, there’s nowhere to go dump it.
However, if you stay in parks that have a central dump station, these waste wagons are convenient. You don’t have to unhook from your electricity or slide everything in just to go dump twice a week.
The ultimate purpose of a waste wagon is to allow you to dump your black and gray tanks when they’re full, without spending a ton of time de-camping and then setting back up.
Question: What’s the best way to use a waste wagon?
Answer: It may be uncomfortable to talk about, but you need to know how to use it if you’re going to get one. You don’t want to end up with a spill or a small that’s nearly impossible to clean up and get rid of.
Make sure you have protective gear like gloves, eyewear, and a face shield. Remember to close your mouth while you do this, in case of a spill. Some people would prefer to wear a mask over their mouth and nose.
You then connect your sewer hose to the waste wagon and the holding tank in your RV. Open your RV’s valve and let the waste exit the tank. Once your tank is empty, close the valve and unhook the sewer.
As long as your waste wagon is attached securely to its cart, you can transport it to the dump station and drain it out.
Question: What are the most reputable RV waste wagon brands?
Answer: The top manufacturers of RV products and accessories are Camco, Barker, and Thetford, so it’s only natural to assume they’re probably the best waste wagons you can buy. But they all have different features and sizes, so you’ll still want to look around for the one that will work best for you.
Question: How do I clean and treat an RV waste wagon?
Answer: Many RV parks have rules about how they want you to clean out your waste. The dump station may even have water and hoses so you can rinse them when you’re done.
You can also use 1 part bleach and 20 parts water and let it rest in the tank for about 24 hours. Drain this at the dump station and then rinse it again. It will help eliminate odors and is a great way to prep your waste wagon for storage.
Question: Where can I empty my portable RV waste wagon?
Answer: Many state and national parks have access to dump stations, as do privately owned parks. They will let you dump for free if you’re staying there, but many of these charge a small fee to dump if you’re a member of the public and don’t have a reservation.
You can do a quick internet search for dump stations near you to find out where they are and how much they charge.
I typically rely on the Camco brand for most of my RV needs, so that’s the one I would recommend. They have a variety of capacities and designs, but they’re all very high quality and reliable.
If you’re looking for something that’s not quite as pricey but still a good value, look into Tote-N-Stor.
The main thing to ensure is that the waste wagon you choose will work for you. It needs to accommodate the contents of your tank and transport should be easy for you, no matter how you plan to do it.